Having worked for GRE Assets since the very beginning, Managing Director, Michael El-Kassir plays a crucial role in the strategic development of the group. Over the past 14 years he has been responsible for the continued growth of GRE Assets’ international operation in Spain and the Middle East. Now with over 100 investment partners, Michael manages a strong team to ensure excellent client service centred around professionalism and integrity.
When asked if he has one piece of business advice he holds in high regard he said: “It would be to always think of the long term.” Michael has taken this approach to ensure he has developed and retained staff, delivered for investors over a long period of time, and has happy end-users living in high-quality apartments.
In this interview, Michael El-Kassir shares GRE Assets’ criteria for investment, why he thinks regional cities have a lot to offer, and what he thinks the future holds for the UK residential property market.
What criteria do you use when picking an investment location?
Our criteria is very strict and it’s not something we are willing to compromise on. Firstly, affordability, there must be a high demand among local people in the area that we’re buying. With this comes good transport connections into the nearest major cities, in the UK we are very much focussed on London commuter zones. Providing the units being sold or let are high-quality and well-priced, these areas have stood the test of time, during good and bad periods.
We also look at the regeneration of the local area and work with the council to understand what the plans are. It’s also important to understand what local people need in order to address this with our projects. There are other factors that are important too, but at the centre of our criteria is affordability, transport links and ongoing regeneration.
What do you think regional cities undergoing regeneration have to offer investors?
Rather than focusing on what investors want to invest in, we take a step back and look at what local people need in that area. This means that the demand is there, so then our next job is to show our potential clients why it is a good investment opportunity.
For example, when we launched our City Tower development to investors in Riyadh, many weren’t familiar with where Reading was and how close it is to London. We told people about all the town had to offer and why they should consider investing outside of London. It wasn’t easy, but we got there and in time we had investors approaching us about Reading.
By the time an area has started trending it is often too late, so the skill is to be able to go somewhere new for the first time that is on the cusp of regeneration. We are proud to now have a strong track record of achieving this and investors have followed us from Reading to East London and then onto Manchester and Barcelona.
What do you think the future holds for the UK property market?
We think the future for the residential property market in the UK is bright and there is a lot of potential. In the short-term, we’ve seen the incentives introduced by the Chancellor such as the stamp duty holiday, cause an increase in enquiries and reservations on our properties.
In the longer term, we think it will go from strength-to-strength, providing you’re investing in areas which are affordable, have good transport links and planned regeneration. As a company, we have never believed that luxury property is the answer to strong returns, and have achieved great results based on our criteria.
GRE Assets is a property investment company with major residential projects in the UK and Spain.